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How to Buy a Used Bike

how to buy a used bike

If you want to buy used bikes and save some money, then you need to be very careful. Buying complex items from hand to hand always involves increased risk.

Perhaps the transport you see in front of you has survived an accident or been stolen. You should know what to look for when buying a used bike. Follow our used bike buying guide bikes to avoid mistakes.

Where to Buy Used Bicycles?

buy used bikes

Take a look at local stores and workshops in addition to free ads in newspapers and on the Internet – they often sell used machinery for a penny. Understand who you’re dealing with: a bicycle may come on sale from a caring owner or may be assembled from a few “dead” units.

Buying used bicycles from good friends is a very convenient option. You know the previous owner, the origin of the equipment, and the attitude towards it. You will also get an opportunity to have a thorough examination and test drive of the iron horse.

Used Bike Guide

what to look for when buying a used bike

Let’s move on to the technical side of the question: what to pay attention to buy a secondhand bike safely? Does the owner take care of it or hasn’t changed the grease for years? Is the frame perfectly smooth or with strange dents? Are the tires cracking?


The tires should not be bald or cracked to save money in the near future.

Wheels and rims

Bicycle wheels are available in different types. In addition to the usual, with spiked rims, there are new fashion cast wheels. Even simple spokes differ in material (steel, aluminum, titanium), thickness, and reliability of operation.

When you buy a second-hand bicycle, pay attention to the presence of rust on the rim, the correct shape, and the condition of the spokes.

If you flip your bike over, grab the wheel by the rim and try to shake it – if the wheel has backlash, the bearing may be damaged. Ideally, there is no backlash, but the wheel rotates evenly.

Manual brake

The state of the handbrake is a matter of life and death. Check the condition of the pads and the adjustment. Do the pads hit the tire? Do they squeeze the wheel rim at the same time? Pay attention to the cable: it must be clean, lubricated, with a tip.

Chain and sprockets

Is it rusty? Try to pull the chain away from the sprocket – it should fit tightly. Even worse, when the sprocket teeth are shaped like shark teeth or deformed. Walk past it or reduce the price significantly.


Insurmountable clicks underfoot, especially under load, can mean wearing off and this part must be replaced quickly. Try jerking the connecting rods left-right – the pedals should not backlash. The cause of the backlash will be revealed during disassembly.


Do they rotate smoothly? Are the edges scratched? Are they dangling? You will feel it during the test drive, which we highly recommend. It is not difficult to replace the pedal itself, but if the axles and connecting rods are bent it is better to think twice.

Frame and fork

Take a good look at the frame. Are there any dents or damaged paint that could indicate a collision? Squat and make sure that the fork is symmetrical and has not lost its shape as a result of the impact.

You should not buy a bike if you suspect that the frame has been bent. Here it is recommended to be extremely careful and trust your eyes, not the seller.


Bent? Rusty? Stand in front of your bike by clutching the front wheel between your legs. Try to spin the handlebars. Easy to move? It is not good. Take out the handlebar, and the wheel should not move separately. Try to clamp the bolt with an Allen key.

Mudguards and accessory equipment

Check if everything is holding tight. If not, use this little minus for bargaining. Deformed and cracked plastic mudguards will have to be replaced for safety: they can break and jam the wheel in motion. If the headlights and beepers are installed, make sure they work.


The saddle must hold securely – make an effort to turn it. The seat post should not be above the specified height and should not have any backlash.

Note about cheap new bikes

buy secondhand bike

From time to time they appear in department stores, car spare parts stores, or catalogs. Be careful: although you can get a guarantee, do not wait for long years of service of such equipment and quality after-sales service. Sometimes, used bike purchase is a more reliable option.

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